Democratic Congressman Slams NRA Response To Newtown Shootings
Langevin Responds to NRA Press ConferenceReacting to the proposals for dealing with gun violence made Friday by the National Rifle Association, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) told MSNBC today that he was "absolutely disgusted" by the notion that "ending violence automatically means putting more guns on the street."
Langevin referenced his personal experience with guns, noting that his accident "happened in the Warwick police station at the hands of two weapons experts on the police S.W.A.T. team. If that doesn't prove that an accident with a weapon can happen anywhere, I don't know what does. We don't need more guns being around our children in schools," he said.
Richard Lui (Host): Joining me now, Congressman James Langevin. An accidental shooting left him confined to a wheelchair since he was 16 and Congressman, you were with us last week and thanks for coming back.
Jim Langevin: Thank you, Richard, for having me on the program.
RL: So you saw what LaPierre had said. What do you think about his plan? His plan itself we'll put aside for a second, but it's really the sentiment and the mood that he portrayed. What was your reaction to it?
JL: Well, first of all, my thoughts and prayers are still with the families of Newtown, Connecticut, who lost loved ones, especially the children in that horrible, horrible attack. My heart breaks for those families and what they're going through and they're in my thoughts and prayers and I know they are still in the thoughts and prayers of people around the nation.
With respect to the NRA and the position that they have come out with, I have to say that I am personally, absolutely disgusted by the position of the NRA that they think that any problem with ending violence automatically means putting more guns on the street. They have opposed reasonable things like an assault weapons ban. They opposed reasonable things like banning those extended gun clips of 30 or 100 bullets that they would contain in those - that can be used in an assault weapon. Those are weapons of war and they have no more business being on our streets than an army tank as I said many times before.
With respect specifically, too, about putting guns in our schools, let me say, having more guns around our children is not the answer. My accident, when I had my accident as a young police cadet, happened in the Warwick police station at the hands of two weapons experts on the police S.W.A.T. team. If that doesn't prove that an accident with a weapon can happen anywhere, I don't know what does. We don't need more guns being around our children in schools. What we need to do is prevent those individuals that would carry out these kind of attacks from getting those weapons in their hands in the first place and that certainly means an assault weapons ban. It certainly means tougher background checks, which aren't sufficiently happening right now if you're getting guns at a gun show or private sale and it certainly means more help and support for people with mental illness.
RL: Representative, what LaPierre also said is that when you look at those officers that are placed in certain public schools, they're not armed well enough, perhaps, and that they do need to have proper defense. So for instance, a Department of Education study showed that public schools around the country, 28% have a firearm, 22% a chemical spray and 17% have a stun gun. On firepower alone when we look at these tragedies, unfortunately, even when you do have police or security at those locations, they're severely, severely overmatched when it comes to firepower.
JL: Well, I think it shows in Columbine, just for example, that even there, that having armed police officers on the scene…
RL: They had two of them, right?
JL: …at the school didn't stop that attack from happening. Look, I have the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform and law enforcement who every day put their lives on the line to protect all of us and I'm grateful for their service, but, again, whether it's security or police, having them in the schools isn't the primary answer for protecting our children. It's about preventing people from getting these assault weapons in the first place. We have to do a better job of protecting our children and we can do that most effectively by passing an assault weapons ban, eliminating these extended gun clips as legally - being legally sold in the country and we also need to have more support for mental health services. There are studies that suggest that about 10% of the population have some form of mental illness and only about 20% of the people that have mental illness actually get diagnosed and are being treated. So, we have a lot of work to do in other constructive areas and, again, putting just people - more people with guns in schools isn't the answer.
RL: Alright thank you so much. Congressman James Langevin, appreciate your time today.
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